The road to yesterday, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

historias-de-avonlea-l-mmontgomery-193611-mla20597035116_022016-oI don’t know if you’re familiar with Anne Shirley’s adventures (have you ever heard of “Anne of Green Gables”?), but, long story short: Anne was an 11 years-old orphan girl that was adopted by the Cuthbert siblings. Montgomery developed an entire life for Anne, and through the series you can see her grow old, go to college, get married and have a lot of kids. And then she also wrote about the Anne’s kids. As long as the story goes, I believe there was no aspect in every day’s life that wasn’t portrayed in the books. Or, at least, for what life was during the first half of the 20th century.

This book in particular, however, it’s not about Anne or her family, although they’re mentioned in every single tale. Each story is auto-conclusive and gives us a sight in the life of the people from Avonlea, the little town where Anne lives.  Some of these stories depict themes such as resentment, revenge, insanity and murder, but also faith, family, friendship, hope and, of course, love. The love stories are the best, or at least my favorites. There isn’t a specific timeline, but you can tell that the years go by from the first to the last story, and it’s noticeable through the changes in Anne’s family.

This book is an alteration of The Blythes are quoted, and that earlier title gives you an idea about how we found out about Anne’s life in these stories: “Dr. Blythe says…”, “Mrs. Blythe says…”, “the Blythe kids…”, and there’s also a lot of “Susan Baker says…” because she, as their house keeper, is the most reliable informant about news from the Blythe household.  And, believe me, I was as eager for gossip as any other character in the book. That’s how life is in small towns, right?

Anne’s novels are so heartwarming! And if you don’t believe me, believe Mark Twain, who once said Montgomery’s Anne was “the dearest and most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice”.

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The glimpses of the Moon, by Edith Wharton

mkt0000014066I was hooked by the premise of this book, and I’d like to try it sometime 😉

A poor but well connected young newlyweds plan to live at least for a year in honeymoon at expenses of their wealthy friends, while the husband works in his first book hoping to make a living as a writer. What was out of their plan were the stumbling blocks that came along with it, like some unwanted meetings in their vacations and keeping secrets from each other. This last bit was heartbreaking for the reader (or at least for me) because those secrets were kept with good means, in order to not worry their other half, but were noticeable by them as an uncomfortable and estranged situation. The things seemed to reach a break point with no return, and the spouses parted in different ways.

Shh, I won’t tell how it ends!

I liked the developing of the story, but I felt a bit disappointed with the end, it felt meager.

Letters, by John Keats

cartas-de-john-keats

Recently I reviewed  The Death of the Moth and other essays by Virginia Woolf, a book that came out after her death, organized and directed by her husband. Most of the essays are critics or reviews that she did of other books and it  called my attention  that many of those books were about famous writers’ correspondence, and Woolf often discuss about their writing style, which made me think about my style. It was definitely helpful and inspiring. So when I saw this short compilation of Keats’ correspondence at a very good price I said “Why not?”.

I can’t say if this book is a direct translation of a specific compilation, or the Spanish editor just went for these letters. That’s probably told in the preliminary study but, well, I don’t remember. The letters are arranged in themes, so it’s not a chronological reading. The first letters were for his family and they were quite day-to-day, but the ones I found more interesting were the ones grouped under the “Nature” category, where he described the landscapes he visited, and the ones written to fellow poets, where he talks about his own writing work. The letters I wasn’t very keen of, for my surprise, were those he wrote for the girl he was in love with. He always sounded obsessive and possessive, in a way that, today, should be a wake-up call for an un-healthy relationship. But that’s probably just me, taking things out of context, as usual. Or a very sensitive poet (?).

I haven’t read any of Keats’ works before this, and I’m not sure if this made me want to read them now, but I definitely want to read more correspondence from him or other writers.

The curfew, by Jesse Ball

22064667I read this book in just two days, and if I had not interrupted the reading, I would have ended it in just one afternoon.

The story goes about a mute girl and her young father, who used to be a great violinist but now works as an epitaphs writer. Her mother has disappeared, and probably killed, by the totalitarian and invisible government. Her father tries to go unnoticed, so he could guarantee a “normal” and happy existence for her. Around them, people disappear and get killed in the streets every day. The police doesn’t have an uniform, and that makes the father wonder “How do they recognize each other?”.

I thought that would be an important question for the development of the story, because the father runs, later, into an old acquaintance that talks to him about subversive actions done by the people. “They don’t recognize each other, that’s the point”, I thought. “There’s no police”, I thought, “They’re just normal people killing each other and that’s how the government works”, I thought. Well, we’ll never know. There are not much things told by the narrator. We are kept in ignorance of a lot of things. Do we need to know? Probably no, but surely one wants to know.

At the end, a few is told, but not by the narrator, but through a puppet play written by the girl and played by their puppeteer neighbor.

Did I like the book? Hard to define. It’s a very interesting universe, but I feel a bit conned, I wanted to know more.

The Death of the Moth and other essays, by Virginia Woolf

25109238This book contains several random works of her, some of them were previously published in journals and such, others were conferences, other were never published before. Originally, this book came out after her death, organized and directed by her husband.

Most of the essays are critic or reviews that she did of other books, and I’ve read none of those. Still, those writings aren’t hard or heavy to read and, if anything, make me want to get those books. What called my attention is that many of those books were about famous writers’ correspondence, and Woolf often discuss about their writing style,  which made me think about my style and whatever we normally do while penpalling. It was definitely helpful and inspiring. Most of the time I spent reading this book I was at the train or the metro, and always regretted not having a pencil to underline fragments, and often made me think that I had to show this to this friend or that other friend.

I highly recommend this book, just to have a glimpse of her great, clear and sincere writing style.

The Cook, by Harry Kressing

24115796Conrad, the cook, arrives to a small village in a never mentioned country. He’s having a job interview with the head of one of the two main families in the place. His recommendation letters are very impressive, so Mr. Hill hires him almost immediately.

In just a few days, he’s very known by everyone in the village. He’s not only an excellent cook, but he also has a very authoritative character and has the village practically under his control. But he doesn’t stop there (suspense music).

Every now and then I bought books without any expectancy, and let them carry me on. This was one of those. The story is told in a very simply and almost kind way, but when you stop to think for a minute, you realize it could almost be a horror story. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating. But really, the way this character’s influence and power grows and grows and everybody just let him, with little to none resistance, is machiavellian.

Oh, and there’s food, lots and lots of food, so I wouldn’t recommend its reading with an empty stomach.

El cuento naturalista francés, by various authors

25687776Naturalism was a literary movement, “born” from literary realism. Naturalistic writers were influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. They often believed that one’s heredity and social environment largely determine one’s character. Whereas realism seeks only to describe subjects as they really are, naturalism also attempts to determine “scientifically” the underlying forces (such as the environment or heredity) influencing the actions of its subjects. Naturalistic works often include uncouth or sordid themes, exposing the harshness of life, including poverty, racism, violence, prejudice, disease, corruption, prostitution, and filth. Because of this, the writers were highly criticized. The book was a random anthology of tales, one by author, including works from Zola, Daudet, Maupassant and others. Some of them, like Daudet, never recognized themselves as part of this literary style, but they’re included nowadays.